Sunday 11th September
I’m sitting in Euston Station, London, waiting for my train to Manchester where I’ll spend two nights with my family before heading to Manchester Airport at 0700 on Tuesday.
Life has been very hectic on both sides of the Atlantic since Jan flew to the USA, so I do apologise for the irregularity of my posts. Hopefully, from now on, posts will be more regular and frequent.
Meanwhile, I’ll try to catch up with things during the train journey.
Back to Cedar City, Utah
The first thing Jan needed to do was to book the bike in for a service; the only workshop he could find that was familiar with Moto Guzzista was in Sandy, close to Salt Lake a city, Utah. So that’s where he headed there after two nights in Cedar City.
Harrison’s, the workshop had ceased to be a Guzzi agent only the week before but they told Jan to bring the bike in and they would see what they could do.
Accordingly, he set off at 0700, straight onto I-15 N. He wrote that it was a good job he’d put a thermal vest on as there were pockets of very cold air. After 66.4 miles, he stopped – more for hot coffee than for fuel because he could barely feel his hands.
Warmed up, he set off again. As the sun rose, the ride became very pleasant and his next stop was after another 155.7 miles; more coffee and a fill up, empty out and a stretch. Checking distances, he could see he had another 30 miles to ride before Sandy.
Once there, he found the turn-offs very confusing and had a few missed turn offs but eventually, he made it to the bike shop which, he said was huge. They would get right on to servicing the bike, so he offloaded the bags into a taxi they called for him, left the bike in their hands and went to check into the motel.
The bike was ready the same day, engine, gearbox and final drives oils as well as the oil filter – which they had on the shelf. $360.
Although the motel in Sandy was very nice and there were lots of places to eat in walking distance, the rates for the weekend went up considerably, so Jan decided to head further east and into Wyoming. There’s a town close to the state line called Evanston and, having been there a couple of times on earlier trips, he also knew there was a shooting range. Just the job to relax for the weekend.
Saturday, Sunday 3rd/4th September.
Jan spent some of the weekend on a shooting range. He tried three different guns but wasn’t really happy with any of them;
Yes, the range is good but, the guns aren’t great; after 15 rounds of 9mm, I took the Glock 42, single stack back because the trigger was squishy.
(don’t ask, I know nada about guns). I need to explain here, Jan used to shoot competitively – almost Olympic standard, but nowadays, the only place he can shoot targets is in the USA.
He had taken his own earplugs which were ineffective and he complained he was deaf for the next 24 hours. Second visit to the range, he hired some decent ones.
On the third day, he set off back south. This time to St George, Utah. He spent a couple of nights there – same motel as we were in at the beginning of the trip, last year. There was another, and better range there to pass the time. Although, he shot for an hour or so but then had to go back to the motel to rest his aching arms before returning later in the day. Not got quite the strength he had in days gone by.
On the ride down the interstate, he had noticed a lot of noise from the exhaust but the bike wasn’t losing power. He suspected a new gasket was needed.
Fortunately, he had previously arranged to meet up with one of the guys from GuzziTech, a forum we’ve been members of since 2006. Todd lives in Malibu but has a workshop near to San Bernadino, California. A couple of emails later and it was arranged; both to meet up and for Todd to take a look at the exhaust.
Meanwhile, the saddle bags on the bike needed a spot of TLC. The straps, which I had strengthened once already, were beginning to split again. A visit to WalMart and Jan found some Gorilla glue.
The first photo Jan sent me did not fill me with admiration….
He assures me that, once it dried and he trimmed it, that it looks ok now…. hmmmm, we shall see.
Friday 10th September.
Jan was up, showered, packed and on the road soon after 0700; destination, Orange, close to San Bernadino, California; back on I-15 leaving Utah, riding crossing a corner of Nevada and into California. It looked like a beautiful ride to me; normally we are here in July when the sun bleaches every colour from the land in the scorching sun. The autumnal light really did allow the colours to be seen, even at midday. Jan left the road at one point and rode to a flyover where he could stop to take a quick photo.
He passed lots of Joshua trees but said there was no way to stop on the interstate to take photos – and yet…..
How did he get that shot, I wonder?
He arrived at a motel we had found that had suites rather than just rooms; this means he has a little kitchen for his three-day stay. He’ll be able to prep some food himself and buy a couple of cheap beers from the supermarket as opposed to paying way over the top for beer in local bars.
He settled in before taking off to scout out where Todd’s workshop was. Between them they arranged for the bike to be checked first thing Saturday morning.
Saturday 11th September: Jan wrote on the Guzzi forum;
A couple of years ago, in May of 2014, we took the Guzzi to Larry of MG Motors in Michigan for the usual pre-trip service. Larry was unable to source the PR 2 tyres we prefer So We ended up with an Avon Road Rider. This is the tyre changed today. It reminded me that the last time we saw Larry was when he fitted that tyre; later that summer, Larry drowned while on holiday in the Virgin Islands. A great loss; he was one of the best, both as a person and as a motorcycle genius. And he really knew old British bikes. Much missed by many.
That tyre lasted 11 871 miles.
Today, Saturday, I rode the bike to Todd at Guzzi Tech, Batavia Rd, Orange County, to fix the blown exhaust gasket and to replace the rear tyre with a Bridgestone Battlax BT. I had checked both tyres when I picked the bike up and they both looked OK. It wasn’t until Todd put the bike on the lift that we could both see, clearly, that the rear tyre was not ok!
Todd had a selection of three tyres that would fit; one was a sort of offroad, another so wide he would have to remove the final drive to get the wheel in place, so I took the third choice, a standard Battlax BT45. It is without a doubt, the smallest rear tyre that has ever been on the Breva.
Todd was great, he dropped his planned jobs, & fixed both problems there & then.
Current mileage at the fitting of the tyre is 71,815 (all bar 10 miles have been ridden in the US & Canada).’
Back in Blighty, I have definitely not been idle. I’ve been in Manchester for most of the past month, pet sitting whilst Caroline and the family went on holiday to Cyprus. Caroline lives opposite her dad, Eric; we were married once – boy and girl, living next door to each other, growing up together in our teens. And so, we are still great friends.
A couple of Sunday’s ago, Eric knocked on the door and asked if I would like to go for a bike ride with himself and his partner, Debbie. I was a bit stuck for words for a couple of reasons, the first being that I always swore I would never get on a motorbike in a UK city – it’s hairy enough in a car! The second thought – and this popped right out of my mouth – ‘On the Ducati?’ Said with a tone close to horror; Eric’s Ducati was definitely of the fast kind. My mind was hoping for an excuse like, ‘no helmet’. But Eric said, ‘ Nah, I sold that about five years ago. I’ve got a Honda now, more of a cruiser’. And I’ve got two spare helmets and a jacket’. That ended my excuses then. Then I thought, ‘ oh, what the hell, girl; just go’ so we did. Up the motorway and into the foreign lands of Yorkshire, over the moors. And I LOVED it. The Honda CBF is a beautiful bike. I could feel the power in its 1000cc engine – great torque through the gears; it just purred along. After a short time getting used to the feel, out came my mobile phone, no hands gripping tightly to either the hand grips nor Eric. Just like being back on our own bike in the USA. Debbie was riding on her great and pretty powerful scooter. I wanted Eric to open her up and really let her run free but, of course there are speed limits and lots of traffic over here.
Later, over a coffee, I realised I have only been on a two-wheeled motorised vehicle in the UK three times in my life, this day being the third! The first time – which Eric also remembered clearly, was when I was 15 and he was 17. His brother had a scooter (of the 60s ‘mods’ kind, so probably a Lambretta). Gary, the brother, had been working on the bike the previous day. Eric decided to take me for a spin. All was well until he came to brake. Gary hadn’t reconnected the rear brake line. Eric, in a slight panic, put more oomph into the only other brake, the front. With the result that the scooter came to a horse-type halt and flew to the left while Eric and I flew off – literally flew off – to the right. Like a bi-plane with Eric underneath, me on top of him, all four arms stretched out as though we were on the bow of the Titanic in that film., and we skidded across the JUST RE-GRAVELLED car park, scraping our skin off and getting lots of sharp bits embedded in our bare arms!
Once we halted to a stop, Eric turned hard and said to me, ‘Ger off me’.
The second time was when working a spell as a district nurse, I thought a moped would be a faster way to do my rounds than a pedal bike. My dad kindly bought me one. FIRST day out, in the centre of town, a car made a stupid manoeuvre ahead of me, causing me to have to break hard and, at the same time, jump off. Sure enough, I got gravel-rash again. Worse, was the total embarrassment of being in a nurses uniform (the old-fashioned, starched kind too). My black stockings were laddered in numerous places, blood dripped down the exposed white flesh and, meanwhile, the moped was dancing around in circles in the middle of the road, holding up the traffic!
I thoroughly enjoyed this third ride though and, more importantly, it shook out the wobbles I have before every trip. I’m raring to get going now!
I had three days back at home and just enough time to sort my stuff out for the trip. My new bike suit was too long in the legs so a bit of Velcro saved the day there.
I wanted to sew the old Moto Guzzi badges on the new jacket (I don’t care that they are faded – they’ve done the miles)
Bags are packed one heavy one with all my motorcycle gear and the very small amount of clothing I’m allowed in it, the other with documents, camera and iPad.
Finally, I arrive at the station
So, that’s the best I can do as catch up. Tomorrow I’ll be on my way to Las Vegas.
See you on the other side.